As people walk past the spacious outdoor patio into Hodsons Bar & Grill, they might spy diners devouring sushi rolls, brick-oven pizza, and steaks beneath white canvas umbrellas or sipping brews around the fire pit on gray wicker patio sofas with sleek white cushions. Inside, diners perch on leather chairs and slide into booths beneath an abstract glass chandelier that resembles a flaming sun. The private dining room seats guests beside a floor-to-ceiling wine rack built into the wall, and the glass doors, marked by the face imprints of those who weren’t invited in, can be shut for total privacy.
The upscale, contemporary decor reflects Hodsons’ upscale, contemporary American dishes, such as portobello-and-fig pizza, baked dungeness-crab dip, and Asian nachos with mango, avocado, and chilled chicken. Burgers hoist Colorado Angus beef and buffalo, handcut fillets of Scottish salmon await the grill’s flame licks, and three-cheese macaroni teems with chunks of Maine lobster and applewood bacon.
Signature drinks—including blueberry basil-tinis with Little Black Dress vodka and muddled basil and blueberries—and the food pair better than Elvis and sequins. Servers also pour glasses of wine and tap brews such as Left Hand Sawtooth ale and Angry Orchard cider.
Voted the Best Burger of 2012 by Westword, Juicy Burgers & Dogs doesn’t skimp on quality, using never-frozen meat, fresh veggies, and artisanal buns in its delectable offerings. Baked with organic rye flour, white and pumpernickel buns surround preservative- and filler-free patties with the perfect amount of open-flame char and mouthwatering juiciness. Guests can pick 100% fresh ground beef, Colorado ground lamb, or Red Bird Farms chicken breasts to fill the buns, adorned with spreadable sharp cheddar cheese or slices of Tillamook cheddar, as well as slabs of fresh veggies. Guests can also sink teeth into a juicy dog, choosing from a classic Vienna all-beef hot dog, char-grilled Kobe jumbo dog, or Sheboygan-style wisconsin beer brat. Main courses are accompanied by french fries, cut throughout the day from kennebec potatoes and fried in pure canola oil, and Häagen Dazs milk shakes, made solely from the milk of Danish-speaking cows.
In the midst of bright oranges and purple and a mural of the Denver skyline, an insignia of five stars hangs displayed on Five Star Burgers' walls. Though the eatery's recipes have spread to Missouri and Colorado, they each draw from the southwestern flavors of the restaurant's hometown of Taos, New Mexico. At the Denver locations, chefs build burgers and sandwiches using local Durham Ranch bison, local chickens, and natural steroid- and antibiotic-free beef from Harris Ranch when possible. They offset meaty offerings with vegetarian salads, veggie burgers, and portobello sandwiches. At a full bar, bartenders stir specialty cocktails or pour pint glasses of local craft beer. The restaurant staff's commitment to sustainable practices also extends to packaging and utensils: the carryout packages are made from recycled biodegradable paper, and the drinking cups are fashioned from recycled plastic by elves recycled from Christmas.
Bombay Bowl's owner, Amar, says he "grew up in an East Indian kitchen," where he attentively learned his family's generations-old knowledge of the region's aromatic and salutary spices. Although his menu features the familiar combinations of turmeric, ginger, and coriander, he set out to infuse his Indian cuisine with a home-style casual, health-conscious environment. The cooks eschew trans fats and artificial flavorings, seeking out all-natural beef and chicken, chopping vibrant vegetables, and baking fresh naan in their kitchen instead. With these ingredients, diners can choose a bowl of long-grain basmati rice topped with meaty or vegetarian proteins, sauces, and chutneys. The chefs also whip up gluten-free and vegan options, accommodating virtually any diet.
Executive chef Jose Manuel sharpened his skills and spatulas as the executive chef on the Leigh, an Ibiza luxury yacht where he served Bono, dignitaries, and the entertainment industry's top whale impersonators. Like Tapas D'Jerez's owners—a pair of brothers named Francisco and Augusto—Manuel is a Colorado dweller but a Spain native, and like them, he's passionate about bringing the Iberian Peninsula's flavors to Colorado. Tapas D'Jerez is named for the town in southern Spain where sherry—jerez in Spanish—was first created, a nod to the authentic culinary traditions that tie the restaurant to its menu's place of origin. When it comes time to ordering, diners can flex their culinary creativity by curating their own tapas plates, designing custom combinations grouped by ingredient or overall popularity. They can also choose from a variety of rice, meat, and seafood entrees, such as paella, salmon with fried bread sauce, and chicken breast cooked in sherry wine.
As you look around the room at Pizzeria di Olinto, it's not uncommon to see people sharing bottles of wine and laughs over feasts of fresh Mediterranean salads, pastas, and pizzas. As some diners twirl their forks into plates of creamy carbonara and zesty pasta arrabbiata, others sample bites of olives, artichokes, cheese, and charcuterie from the chef's board. The flavors here don't just rely on tradition, either—everything is made fresh, from the salad dressings to the desserts and the magic spells used to walk it all onto each plate.
But the pizzas are perhaps the centerpiece of the menu. Each one is made in the Neapolitan-style oven by a pizzaolio trained by General Manager Terri, a member of the tradition-upholding Associazione Vera Pizza Napoletana. To make each original composition, the chefs crown it in mozzarella and imported San Marzano tomatoes before adding toppings such as fennel sausage and baking it to a crisp in a wood-fired oven.